Texas law enforcement officers providing immigration authorities with details of motorists who have been cited and are suspected of being in the country illegally could be engaging in racial profiling, according to civil rights advocates.
The Department of Public Safety has shared the names of hundreds of people with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the past two years, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
Adriana Piñon, of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said she's concerned that state troopers are participating in federal immigration enforcement even though they are trained to enforce state law.
"This lack of training then raises the question of when they are on the street, how do they know when and whether to stop a person?" Piñon said. "The big concern for us is racial profiling."
She added that having local law officers enforce immigration erodes a community's trust, making people reluctant to report crimes for fear that they or their relatives may be targeted for deportation.
DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said citation lists forwarded to ICE contain the names of people ticketed only for certain violations, without regard to a person's origin.
"There is a standing request from ICE to provide them a statewide listing of DPS enforcement of DWI and no-driver-license offenses," Vinger told the Express-News. "These lists have been provided by Highway Patrol since August 2016 on a monthly basis. The information does not include, nor do we have, immigration status on the violators."
It's unclear how many people have been deported due to the arrangement.
Advocates of the practice argue that it helps ICE find undocumented immigrants who may be a threat to public safety.
Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative think tank, said the arrangement "doesn't strike me as inappropriate in any way."
"We want law enforcement agencies working together on behalf of public safety," Vaughan said.